I have this terrible fear that I missed peach and apricot season entirely while in Los Angeles. Missed from the point of view of jam making, that is. At least the local co-op had only very sad looking peaches and apricots when I went in late last week. What they did have though were attractive Dapple Dandy pluots/plums and blueberries. And so, here is a recipe for an improvised blueberry-plum jam.
As I’ve said before, one of the great attractions of making your own jam is that you can create chimerical combinations that you don’t usually see in stores. As it turns out, this is a combination that seems to have occurred to many jam makers—the web is lousy with recipes (and far more attractive photographs than mine).
The idea was to try and keep the berries more or less intact and suspend them in a jam base that would jell easily: hence the plums/pluots (unlike blueberries, they’re very high in pectin). For this reason I left the skins of the plums/pluots in (the skins are particularly high in pectin). I had some thought of fishing them out at the end but of course the blueberries turned the jam so inky dark it was hard to find them and I decided not to try.
As is my habit, following the example of far more accomplished jam makers, I “macerated” the fruit in sugar overnight—this is said to help berries in particular hold their shape. And as I can’t leave well enough alone, I also threw in some lemon balm leaves from my garden—I’d thought I’d remove these before making the jam but, again, the dark blueberry-dyed syrup rendered them invisible almost immediately. I’ve no idea if this is a problem for long-term flavor—if you have theories or knowledge on this count please write in below.
- Plums and/or pluots, 3 lbs, pitted and halved.
- Blueberries, 3 lbs
- Sugar, 4 cups
- Lemon juice, 3 tblspns
- Lemon balm, leaves from one sprig (optional)
- Put the halved and pitted plums/pluots in a large
- glass bowl and crush using a potato masher or similar.
- Add the blueberries.
- Add the sugar and mix thoroughly.
- Add the lemon balm leaves, cover with plastic wrap and leave out overnight.
- The next morning, uncover, stir the syrup thoroughly and add the lemon juice.
- Put everything in a large pot, bring to a rolling boil over high heat and cook, stirring often, but being careful not to put too much pressure on the berries, till the jam reaches the jell point (use the usual cold spoon/plate method to test).
- Fill into clean, hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace, wipe the rims, put on the lids and rims and process following the instructions here.
- This made 4.5 pints of jam, which I filled into 3/4 pint jars that I purchased by mistake instead of my usual 1/2 pint jars; a mistake because they were almost too tall for the pot in which I process the jars and a pain in the ass to lift with my crappy tongs. Maybe it’s time I actually purchased specialized canning equipment.
- Though these were listed as Dapple Dandy plums, they’re really pluots. But “Blueberry-Plum” has a better ring to it than “Blueberry-Pluot”.
- The pluots/plums turned out to be a little more tart than I was expecting and so I used a bit more sugar than I’d planned to. If yours are sweeter you might cut it down by ½-1 cup.
- Perhaps because of the large amount of fruit, or perhaps because of the lower pectin content of the berries, this took quite a lot longer to jell than my last two pluot jams (25 minutes instead of 10-15). The next time I’ll deploy green apple peels as well.
- I might also try a smaller batch with a 2:1 plum/pluot:blueberry ratio. I might get a more attractive colour/contrast that way in the final product.
- How does something that looks so inky black stain so pinkish-red?